It's one of the best years we've seen for winter walking in Scotland and the snow is unlikely to disappear in the near future. If you're new to this exhilarating activity then the first step is a winter skills course. See previous post.
After that you will want to invest in some new winter walking kit. Mostly the right gear is about staying safe and warm on the hills – but as we all know there is also something mentally uplifting about setting out to try your shiny new gear. (Or is this just a girl thing?!)
Mike McLaggan, a winter mountain leader who runs Highway 2 in the Angus Glens, gives us his essential winter kit guide:
* Good quality winter (four season) walking boots
* A 55 to 60cm ice axe (not too lightweight)
* 10 or 12 point crampons with front points that must fit your boots (take the boots to the shop)
* Really good quality gloves
* High quality shell waterproofs, including jacket and pants, and preferably brightly coloured
* Plenty of decent insulation layers
* Good quality walking socks.
"Good quality" is a bit of a theme here but Mike is insistent that paying more for good quality winter walking kit means you'll stay warm on the hills and therefore you're much more likely to enjoy yourself and want to go out again and again. So your initial investment will be worth it in the long-term.
Another essential clothing tip is how to avoid ripping your waterproof trousers! I kid you not! Many winter walkers find that while using crampons they end up tearing the bottom of their waterproof trousers because the crampon points can catch on clothing. This can be costly and also rather annoying.
Mike says – and he instructs on this very issue on his Highway 2 winter skills courses – "When walking in crampons you need to learn how to keep your feet wider apart and also how to turn. Crossing your legs is a no-no, and instead you must learn how to make your body turn in a circle so as to avoid the crampon points taking chunks out of your trouser legs."
If this sounds like news to you then before going out to walk alone you need to take a winter skills course. Visit Glentrek to find out more about how to book these courses